This kids’ program is not really for kids. The films were made by adults, for adults. It just so happens that kids really like them. Later on, when adults realized that kids were watching, they made films for kids, and the films were a lot less interesting.
The films in this program tell a story; they retrace the history of experimental film, not through a chronological history, but through the evolution of forms. Film artists over the past century have tried to radicalize the form and push the envelope of what film can be. They used all the techniques offered by the camera, chemicals and printing techniques. In some cases they have had to build their own machines to create the images they imagined.
Jonas Mekas (Notes on the Circus) uses fast motion and superimposition to convey the emotions of the circus. Hans Richter (Ghosts Before Breakfast), a dada artist who used rhythmic montage and the elements of chance, shows objects living a life of their own. The Nazis censοred his film because they understood right away: if objects can revolt, people can revolt. Len Lye innovated with the earliest color techniques. His Rainbow Dance, a publicity film for the British Post Office, was handpainted using separate strips for each color. Audiences flocked to see it, a fireworks display among the drab grey of newsreels and feature films of the day. Later, in the impressive Free Radicals, he simply scratched dizzy forms on black leader with a needle. Oskar Fischinger (Allegretto) was also persecuted by the Nazi government for making abstract art. His dream was to make a feature-length abstract film set to music; Disney finally agreed to produce his Fantasia, but when the studio insisted on including hippopotami and dinosaurs, Fischinger pulled out of the project. Stan Brakhage (Mothlight) made his first cameraless film by gluing moth wings and blades of grass onto clear film, a pure homage to nature. The Whitney brothers (Lapis) built their own analog computer to create spirograph forms of millions of dots in a mandala pattern. And Takashi Ito (Spacy) animated photographs of a gymnasium to make a vertiginous poem in time and space. But we will start with a joke: a Daffy Duck cartoon that demonstrates experimentation in mainstream animation.
Adults are afraid of experimental films, because they think kids won’t understand them. In fact, kids understand them. Kids love them. Adults would do well to accompany their kids to this screening.
“Mino” in French means “kiddie”. The title is an homage to the efforts of XHX, a group that in the late 1990s organized a series of avant-garde films for kids in Marseille. When suddenly called to a police station to give a name for their organization, they could not think of any. It was 10:10 (X heure X) thus XHX).